Oscar wrap: Was show a major drag?

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James Franco and Anne Hathaway. (All photos copyright AMPAS)
  • James Franco and Anne Hathaway. (All photos copyright AMPAS)

By Matt Brunson

Here are 10 thoughts regarding this year’s Oscar broadcast:

1) I wouldn’t say this was an awful show as much as it was a flat one, with no standout segments (good or god-awful), a slate of predictable winners, and a pair of hosts in over their heads. James Franco was for the most part terrible, and while the lively Anne Hathaway shined in comparison, she had her own share of awkward moments and rarely received help from a lackluster script.

2) The opening film-clip montage, based on Inception and featuring appearances by Alec Baldwin and Morgan Freeman, was one of the highlights of the show. It also showcased Hathaway and Franco at their best, since it required them to act rather than host.

3) I can understand the grousing about the final clip montage announcing the 10 Best Picture nominees, since it allowed The King’s Speech to lord over the other nominees by using Colin Firth’s final monologue from the film as all the clips were shown. But it didn’t bother me, seeing as how expertly the lines matched the scenes being shown. Besides, the employment of Beethoven’s "Symphony No. 7" (also used in the film) would make even a Pampers commercial seem inspiring.

Natalie Portman
  • Natalie Portman

4) Most Deserving Winner: Black Swan’s Natalie Portman for Best Actress. To borrow Miss Hathaway’s favorite expression from the ceremony: Woo-hoo! Runners-up: Toy Story 3 for Best Animated Feature; Inception’s four technical wins; The King’s Speech’s Colin Firth for Best Actor; The Social Network for Best Adapted Screenplay.

5) Least Deserving Winner: The Fighter’s Melissa Leo for Best Supporting Actress. As I wrote in my Oscar prediction piece, “I just can’t believe a performance this hammy would win an Oscar.” Sigh ... I guess I better start believing it. Runners-up: The Wolfman for Best Makeup (Rick Baker already won an Oscar for a superior example of this type of work — An American Werewolf in London — and besides, who the heck could differentiate the makeup from the CGI?); Toy Story 3’s “We Belong Together” for Best Original Song (although, to be honest, all four songs are pretty bad).

6) Best Acceptance Speech: David Seidler, accepting Best Original Screenplay for The King’s Speech. Seidler was witty, gracious, well-prepared, entertaining — everything one would like from a winner. Runners-up: Aaron Sorkin, Best Adapted Screenplay for The Social Network; Luke Matheny, Best Live Action Short Film for God of Love; Randy Newman, Best Original Song for Toy Story 3.

Melissa Leo
  • Melissa Leo

7) Worst Acceptance Speech: Melissa Leo, accepting Best Supporting Actress for The Fighter. The f-bomb didn’t bother me; far more offensive were her rambling speech, her feigned act of surprise and her sense of entitlement. (And what about snatching that cane from Kirk Douglas, who presumably needed it?) Bet Academy members were wishing about then that they had let those controversial ads sway their votes and opted for one of the other four nominees. Runners-up: Nobody else came close.

Russell Brand and Helen Mirren
  • Russell Brand and Helen Mirren

8) Best Presenters: Helen Mirren and Russell Brand. Their bit was clever and funny, and it makes me a little less hesitant about their upcoming Arthur remake. Runners-up: Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law; Cate Blanchett (“That’s gross” — the night’s best ad-lib); Sandra Bullock (go figure); Billy Crystal (thoughts that he arrived to save the show were quickly dispelled).

9) Those folks who predicted all the frontrunners to win in the major categories were doubtless the ones who won their office Oscar pools. As for me, I bravely/foolishly predicted two upsets — The Social Network’s David Fincher for Best Director and The King’s Speech’s Helena Bonham Carter for Best Supporting Actress — meaning that I ended up going 6-for-8. Not a disgrace, but worse than the past couple of years.

10) Cruising through the comments posted on various websites and on Facebook, it’s amazing how many people thought that the evening’s early near-shutout of The King’s Speech and the run of awards for The Social Network (and Inception) signaled that Speech was set to lose to Network. Are these Oscar watchers not aware that the organization's history contains numerous films that only won three or four big awards (including Best Picture) while losing all the technical ones? (Off the top of my head: Rain Man, Million Dollar Baby and Midnight Cowboy.) Also, it turns out I wasn’t the only one who thought that the clip chosen to trumpet Annette Bening’s Best Actress nom for The Kids Are All Right served as a better showcase for the criminally non-nominated Julianne Moore. Finally, the best FB comment I saw came courtesy of Light Factory Film Director and recent Creative Loafing cover subject Linnea Beyer: “I wanted Exit Through the Gift Shop to win, and for Oprah to unzip her body to reveal Banksy inside.”

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